Germany plans to put Airbus and Audi’s cool flying taxi concept into the sky

Remember that awesome mobility concept called Pop.up that showed up at the Geneva Auto Show in 2017 and returned again this year, redesigned as Pop.up Next?

Part car and part quadcopter, the electric-powered Pop.up Next is a collaboration between Airbus, Audi, and design house Italdesign.

The exciting news is that the Pop.up Next has been greenlit for tests, taking it a step closer to becoming part of a flying taxi service for city dwellers.

As per Bloomberg, the German government this week signed a letter of intent with Airbus and Volkswagen’s Audi unit to test the flying machine in and around Audi’s home city of Ingolstadt.

A specific date hasn’t yet been set for the trial to begin, but with a slew of other companies already testing working prototypes, those behind the project will be keen to get Pop-Up Next off the ground at the earliest opportunity.

Commenting on plans for the unique design, German transport minister Andreas Scheuer said in a statement,“Flying taxis aren’t a vision any longer, they can take us off into a new dimension of mobility.”

He added, “They’re a huge opportunity for companies and young startups that already develop this technology very concretely and successfully.”

So what exactly will the first Pop.Up Next testers be stepping into? Well, if the upcoming prototype is anything like the current design, they’ll find a machine that’s made up of two main parts — the ground module, essentially a futuristic-looking two-seat car; and the drone module, which connects to the top of the car before flying it off to its destination.

Both modules operate using autonomous technology so the occupants can simply program where they want to go and let the machine do the rest.

In the words of those building the system, Pop.Up Next “aims to give time back to commuters, freeing them from the need to drive, through a flexible, shared, and adaptable new way of moving within cities.”

Bernd Martens, Audi’s board member for procurement and the president of Italdesign, has described Pop.Up Next as “an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future.”

The complexity of the system presents many big challenges for engineers working on the project, and means it will be some time before we know for sure if it has any chance of becoming a common sight in our towns and cities. But it’s definitely great to see the project moving toward the next stage of development.

Other designs for compact, vertical take-off and landing aircraft — ones comprising a single unit rather than two parts like Pop.Up Next —include the 184 from Chinese company EHang, Uber’s Elevate machine, and the German-made Volocopter. Besides Pop-up Next, Airbus is also backing the self-piloting Vahana air taxi.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Outdoors

The best smart helmets are full of cool tech, and totally worth the messy hair

Helmets might be a haircut's worst nightmare, but they're constantly evolving, and have undergone a 21st-century makeover. No matter your sport, here are the best smart helmets currently on the market.
Cars

Florida allows autonomous cars to drive on its roads without human supervision

Florida governor Ron DeSantis passed a law that establishes a legal framework for self-driving cars to operate within the state. It allows car and tech companies to test self-driving cars without a human operator behind the wheel.
Cars

Will Detroit be the ultimate test for Argo A.I.’s self-driving Ford?

Ford-backed Argo A.I. revealed its third-generation autonomous prototype in Detroit. Based on the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the car is fitted with technology that sees better and further, thinks faster, and is more comfortable to ride in.
Cars

Fisker wants to make sure Tesla’s Model Y isn’t in a class of one when it lands

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Could a high-performance Nissan Leaf steal the mighty GT-R’s lunch money?

Nissan developed the electric Leaf with range and practicality in mind, but the hatchback could lend its hardware to a high-performance flagship. One of Nissan's chief executives announced a four-motor, 850-hp model could arrive during the…
Cars

All the haters are wrong: The new Acura NSX is just like the original NSX

Journalists and enthusiasts have bemoaned the new Acura NSX for not living up to the original car’s greatness. They say this new NSX’s engine is too small, that it’s too complicated, and that it lacks character. Here’s why they’re…
Cars

Forget turrets. Hummer could fight its next war in the electric SUV segment

General Motors is considering resurrecting the Hummer brand it axed in 2010 to make electric off-roaders. The plan hasn't been approved yet, and it risks alienating some die-hard Hummer fans, but it makes sense on several levels.
Cars

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas

Pizza delivery using driverless pods is about to become a thing. Domino's has partnered with autonomous-tech specialist Nuro to use the futuristic pods for a trial delivery service starting later this year.
Cars

Flat-six makes a brief but triumphant return in Porsche’s hot-rodded 718 duo

Porsche unveiled a pair of 718-based sports cars that brazenly buck the industry's downsizing trend. The 718 Cayman GT4 and the 718 Spyder ditch the turbocharged flat-four in favor of a naturally aspirated, 4.0-liter flat-six rated at 414…
Cars

Waymo at last fires up the self-driving smarts of the Jaguar I-Pace

A year after inking a deal with Jaguar to use its I-Pace crossover for its self-driving program, Waymo has started testing the electric vehicle in autonomous mode with a view to adding it to its driverless ridesharing service.
Cars

Dainese Smart Jacket vest airbag breaks new ground so you won’t get broken

Regardless of the type of motorcycle you ride, your body is in jeopardy when you travel. When you share the road with cars and trucks, personal protection is a concern, and Dainese just launched the Smart Jacket, a new airbag vest, to help.
News

Tesla hasn’t made a pickup, so YouTuber Simone Giertz made one out of a Model 3

There’s a new Tesla model in town (sort of). Sick of waiting for Tesla to release an electric pickup truck, YouTuber Simone Giertz decided to make her own — post a fake commercial for it on YouTube.
Cars

Horsepower, tech, or cubic feet? Have all three in the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe

BMW expanded the second-generation 8 Series lineup with a four-door model named Gran Coupe. Developed to replace the 6 Series Gran Coupe, the 8 Series offers the same six- and eight-cylinder engines in a more spacious package.